I am a veteran. Or at least I was a Reservist. I was an Airborne Infantryman before President Clinton took the combat arms units out of the Reserves. I will not try to compare my service to that of a WWII vet or even a current vet from Iraq or Afghanistan. Those people have actually had people out there that wanted to kill them and they have survived. I only make the statement because I have completed Army Infantry School and Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA.
That qualification is important from the point of knowing what I am talking about only because I have actually been through the training. Army training, and to an equal or lesser extent all military training, teaches soldiers to react and not think about what they need to do. This insures the soldier does what they need to do when they are in combat. More importantly, the Army trains soldiers to de-humanize their enemies. This is intended to allow soldiers to kill enemy troops without remorse. I just had a chance to see parts of the “Band of Brothers” mini-series. I think it was a remarkable piece of work. It also drove home the point about war that I have taken to heart over the years since I was a gung-ho, hard-driving Airborne Infantryman. Soldiers kill other soldiers. That is too clean, too aseptic. More accurately, men kill other men. US soldiers came home from WWII and most didn’t want to talk about what they did over there. This is because they had to find some way to deal with the fact that they had to kill other human beings and had to see many of their buddies die at the hands of other human beings. On the ground and in the trenches, the inevitable situation soldiers find themselves in during a war is doing whatever it takes to make sure that they and their buddies get home safely. There is no glory in war, there is only pain.
So you may be asking, what is the answer to war? My answer is to hold the leaders accountable for their actions. Why would it have been so evil to assassinate Hitler (or insert the out-of-control government leader here) but its OK or even a great patriotic good to send millions of men onto battlefields to kill millions of other men? Really, why does that make sense? America always wants to point to how morally superior we are because we do not endorse assassination, yet we are always ready to send our soldiers into harms way.
If you want something to remember this Memorial Day, I would ask that you remember the amount of pain that our war veterans have had to endure because of the actions of the leaders of governments (foreign and our own).